(ag) wrote: Witchboard is a delightfully creepy Horror film, with moments of tense suspense. Directed by the man who brought us Night of the Demons, Witchboard is a neglected low-budget gem of late 80's Horror. Kevin Tenney is a fine director and he once again proves it with this film. Witchboard is a great film, if you don't take it seriously. People are quick to judge on this film, without really trying to grasp the concept. The premise of the film is quite interesting, using the Ouija Board as a plot device is an idea not seen since The Exorcist, and instead of conjuring up a Demon, the evil spirit this time around is that of a mass murderer. In way this can branch into slasher film territory just for that aspect of the film, but it still retains a lot of its supernatural elements. Witchboard is a film that is a lot of fun; just don't take it seriously or anything. This is the type of film where you just need to unwind and enjoy something that's different. The pacing of the film is well done, and it permits the director to build up the tension and scares on screen to fairly good results, I know I did. The first entry of the series is a classic of 80's low budget Horror fare. But what really lacks is the terrible third entry that followed. I will always enjoy Tenney's original film, and he is one great talent in the Horror game. Night of The Demons and this film proves it. Witchboard does have a semi decent cast, but you don't care for anyone really because they're not likeable, and in the end you're kind of happy that a few get wacked off. These are not a perfect film, but if you're the type to enjoy cheesy, fun horror films, then give this one a look. Witchboard is a worthy piece of Horror from the second half of the 80's and in the hands of director Kevin Tenney, it's a terrific little gem often dismissed and it shouldn't be.
(kr) wrote: NEEDS FINAL EDITOne of the more iconic science fiction films of the 1970s, Soylent Green takes place in 2022, in a dystopian New York besieged by global warming, pollution and overpopulation. Virtually everybody subsists on 'Soylent Green,' a food product that's supposedly harvested from plankton - and the film follows what happens when policeman Robert Thorn (Charlton Heston) takes it upon himself to investigate whether this is true.The scene where Sol goes "home" being the last scene he ever played on camera. This sequence, with its classical music and panoramic shots of nature, is the best moment in the movie and elicits a genuine emotional response from the viewer.Soylent Green is dated and unintentionally silly at times but it remains a fairly entertaining combination cop movie/science fiction film. Today Soylent Green is still worth watching, especially for Edward G. Robinson's heartfelt final performance. With as many things wrong, dated and sometimes unintentionally silly, this movie shouldn't be as enjoyable as it is. For that we can thank Heston and Robinson. Their scenes together are the movie's best moments and are surely the reason it is still remembered so well today.Despite all of that, this is still an enjoyable movie. Heston does his best Heston, which basically means being macho all over the place. He's also cynical and a bit of bastard. He's the good guy, but he's also looking out for number one. He's not above stealing from those he's investigating or having sex when it pleases him without concern for the woman's feelings. He's a dark hero for a dark movie. Heston wasn't the greatest actor, but he certainly had screen presence. And nobody, but nobody did better last minute melodramatic Twilight Zone like reveals at the end of Science Fiction films than he did.I agree with Patrick that Sol gives the movie heart. Robinson is the most human character and he delivers a heartfelt performance. His death is certainly the most emotional scene. Reportedly, Robinson had told no one on the film that he was dying except for Heston, whom he told right before they filmed that scene because he thought it would help Heston's performance. After seeing the tears in Heston's eyes as he says good-bye to his friend, I have to agree that it did. And knowing that Robinson died just 12 days after filming this scene, just adds to the poignancy of it.Despite not being a special effects laden science-fiction movie, it's still a great looking one, with its costume design, sets and overall atmosphere. Some of the things still look futuristic, while others look as time hadn't stopped since the '70's. So it's an overall really great and original look that the movie has over it. It's a futuristic movie with an '70's atmosphere.Most of the plot is a whodunit mystery as Thorn investigates the death of a wealthy, powerful man whose death appears to others to be an accident but he suspects (rightly) was a murder. Even this mystery is uninteresting, as the film is so busy setting up its subplots that it doesn't bother to add any interesting intrigue or create any connection with the investigation or the related characters. Those subplots are also generally uninteresting.One of the most striking images in this film is when hundreds of people riot after being told that the government has run out of soylent green at a distribution center. Filmed with a yellow filter to give it an aged, gritty appearance, the scene is that much more shocking when crowd control turns out to be "Scoops", garbage trucks modified to pick up rioters and truck them away.Symbolically, garbage trucks appear again later in the film in an even grimmer fashion, as Thorn hops aboard one to learn what happens to the body of his beloved friend Dystopic sci-fi films can age poorly, but Soylent Green ranks up as one of the best films of the 1970?s, a shocker with striking, upsetting imagery and a stark solution to the continued challenges of overpopulation. If you have a chance to see it, do so. It's well worth your time.what we remember is not the story so much, but the atmosphere and the details; the humid green haze hanging over the city, the food riots, the unending squalor, the homeless sleeping on stoops and crowded into the church. Thanks to Fleischer and his production design team, we remember the images of a filthy, overpopulated and starving world. It was an example of what Harrison called background becoming foreground, when what we take away from a film is not the plot, but an overall image of the world in which the plot plays itself out. Even if few people remember that whole "murder investigation" business a week after seeing the movie, they'll remember the corpses on the conveyor belt and the bulldozers scooping up riotersSOYLENT GREEN holds up as a very entertaining film. Of course, anything made about the future made in the early 1970s is going to suffer somewhat from being dated today, and it does have its share of flaws. But SOYLENT GREEN is classic science fiction, with an interesting and ever-relevant story emphasizing corruption and a society letting itself go, sharp direction by veteran Fleischer, and an excellent cast of Hollywood character actors (including Chuck Connors, Brock Peters, Paul Kelly, Lincoln Kilpatrick, Mike Henry, Whit Bissel, etc.). Heston is terrific as the basically good cop searching for truth while attempting to indulge in the now scarce better things in life, namely booze, real food and "furniture." The standout performance by far is Edward G. Robinson in his last film role, as elderly investigator Sol, Thorn's roommate and best friend. Robinson brings a real human quality to the part, as an old man raving about how wonderful the world once was, saddened by the thought of the present, but beaming in recollection of the good old days. The scenes he and Heston share are priceless, and their camaraderie is undeniable.Heston brings his considerable star quality to the part of Thorn and turns in a memorable performance. He's the Hero with a capital "H," though he's not above a little corrupt behavior, happily looting the rich man's house of food, soap, and other luxuries. This leads to one of the film's best scenes, in which Thorn and his sidekick, Sol Roth (the indispensable Edward G. Robinson) share a meal of fresh vegetables and beef-things Thorn has never eaten, but the much-older Sol remembers all too well.Soylent Green was Robinson's 101st and final film, and he offers a deeply felt, moving performance as a man who's become a relic, is deeply unhappy with the way the world has turned and believes it's becoming time for him to "go home." He and Heston have a wonderful, natural rapport, and their scenes together are standouts. In the commentary, Director Richard Fleischer (Mandingo) talks about how ill Robinson was during the production-he died not long after the film was completed-and that he was almost completely deaf, so that he learned his scenes well enough that he could respond to dialogue and cues he was unable to hear. Also turning in good work is Leigh Taylor-Young (Can't Stop the Music) as a particularly fetching piece of "furniture" with whom Thorn takes up.Fleischer's vision of New York in what is now the not-too-distant future is dank, dingy, and congested. While the "modern" stuff is clearly a 1970s idea of things to come-a "futuristic" video game is just a few steps down from Space Invaders, and Cotten's "posh" apartment looks like it was decorated as part of a Bravo reality show-the low-rent stuff looks great (check out the tin ceiling in Heston's apartment). Fleischer combines elements of sci-fi, murder mystery, romance (between man and "furniture"), noir, and environmental warning in a fast-moving, Saturday matinee-ish package that even today still packs a punch. Soylent Green is a fun film on a lot of levels and has earned its place as a minor classic.Soylent Green is a bit hokey at times, and while some of the special effects are interesting, many of the sets look...well, for the future they look very 1970s-ish. I laughed heartily when a girl started playing a state-of-the-art arcade game that was only two steps up from Pong. Yet I forgive Soylent Green of its faults due to the sheer madness of the story and the way it kept me steadily involved. And that ending, what a humdinger! If you see only one movie this year about a decimated New York City and people forced to live on colored wafers...well, your choices will be limited. But Soylent Green is well worth the watch.The entire cast here is fantastic. Heston can be relied on to play this type of role to the hilt. He is not particularly likable, having suffered through life up until this point, and again, that is refreshing. Robinson is good as Sol, he and Heston work well together. Taylor-Young does a lot with an almost thankless role- literally a woman as an object, sexual or otherwise. Chuck Connors is a big bad meanie villain, a role he should have played more often. The rest of the cast includes Brock Peters and Dick Van Patten.There are many individual scenes here that play so well. Thorn looting Simonson's apartment while "investigating" really lets us in on his personality. Sol and Thorn enjoying their first real meal together is classic. People have not enjoyed their food so much since "Tom Jones." The riot scene, when a food shop runs out of soylent green, is great. Innocent people are being scooped up and dumped into garbage trucks as an assassin tries to kill Thorn. There is even a moving transition as Thorn and Shirl enjoy a hot shower together, laughing, followed immediately by Thorn untying a crying child from its dead mother and taking it to an overcrowded church where Simonson may have confessed his secret. Thorn and Fielding's fist fight is another standout. Watch for Van Patten in a serious role monitoring Sol's "final ceremony".